Mayor: New Bedford Not Ideal for Turbine Foundation Manufacturing
NEW BEDFORD - Mayor Jon Mitchell says while he's flattered Deepwater Wind is considering New Bedford for the possible location of a manufacturing site for offshore wind turbine foundations, he doesn't think it would be the right fit for the city.
The company announced this week it has narrowed potential locations down to New Bedford, Fall River, and Somerset should it win a state contract to build an offshore wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard.
Speaking on his weekly radio program, Mitchell admits it doesn't sound very mayoral of him, but the jobs to acreage ratio is too low to justify the use of such a large piece of real estate that would suit Deepwater Wind's needs.
"Some people might say, 'Well, gee, Mayor, why aren't you fighting for those jobs?' Well, for these foundation manufacturing plants, you're not talking that many jobs per acre," Mitchell said. "We have only so many acres in the city. We try to have employers that have a great deal of employment density."
"What would you rather have? A manufacturer of foundations on a hundred acres of land that only employs 60 people? Or would you like to have more smaller businesses in that same footprint that employ — pick a number — a couple thousand people? You'd say 'Well, of course, we want more jobs."
Mitchell also conceded that New Bedford doesn't have the waterfront real estate Deepwater Wind is looking for to accomodate such a factory. Foundations for offshore wind turbines are so large, they must be transported by waterways instead of highways, requiring waterfront space for easy exportation.
Not to worry, though, as Mitchell says New Bedford will have a large enough role in the offshore wind industry, anyway.
"New Bedford is going to have a lot of action when it comes to marshaling offshore wind projects. In other words the staging of the projects in the South Terminal area, and operations in maintenance, which is another really good area for jobs, and lots of related economic activity in the years ahead."
Deepwater Wind, along with competing projects Bay State Wind and Vineyard Wind, has pledged to use the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal to assemble and stage turbines.
Mitchell says the likely choice for the facility is Brayton Point in Somerset. The 307 acres of land was officially sold in January to Commercial Development Company of St. Louis after the coal-fired plant that took residence there shut down operations in May of 2017.